Friday 31 December 2010

{Day 31} ~ Gather Your Thoughts

Prompt for Day 31, and last day, for Picture the Holidays: Gather Your Thoughts

I've read about the idea of choosing a word for the year on Kim Klassen's blog and have been thinking this past few days about which word I might choose for 2011. At the end, I let my Angel Cards decide. I made them myself over 10 years ago, when I was living and studying in China for a year. One of my flatmates, a girl form Canada, had these and one rainy afternoon, I sat down and myself a set. I found them earlier this year in a box and now I occasionally take a card. The card they came up with for 2011 is Inspiration, which sounds like an excellent choice to me.

So in 2011 I'll keep my eyes and my mind open for all the inspiration around me, to allow me to delevop my photography further, to learn more and to grow. But also to be inspired to find new ways to make those changes I've been wanting to for so long.

I have found plenty of inspiration on Flickr and in the online classes I took in the past 10 months which has helped me immensely in learning about photography and post processing, and I know I will continue to be inspired by the skill, creativity and friendship in 2011.

Have a wonderful and inspiring 2011! 
Happy New Year!

Textures by Shadowhouse Creations, Kim Klassen and AlicePopkorn

Thursday 30 December 2010

{Day 30} ~ Now, There's No Looking Back!

Well, I've already said what I think of the year that's coming to an end (and a triple hurray to that!!) in my last post, so this is now about LOOKING FORWARD to a new and (hopefully) better one.

Today's prompt would also make a good mantra for me, as I tend to live in the past far too often and am often uncomfortable and sceptical about and far too much of a pessimist for looking ahead. But now it's all for LOOKING AHEAD and no turning back!! :-)

On the other hand... Funnily enough, I've just earmarked a page in a novel this morning while at the hairdressers (which is why my hair is looking decent for once :-) ). A woman who has a career in the big city has come back to her home town and the house of her grandmother. She tells herself that she should take more time to think about her grandmother and reflects about who determined that it was better to concentrate on the now anyway? I liked the sentence "Jag har många rum i mitt minne..." - I have many rooms in my memory...

It's important to live in the present, it's good to look forward but there's nothing wrong with remembering the past. It's up to us what we choose remember: to cherish the good memories and not to dwell on the bad things.

May the new year hold many happy memories to look forward to :-)

{Day 298} ~ A Toast

All things considered the past few years havn't really been my best ones and 2010 in particular has been a pretty rotten year. Let 2011 be a really good one for a change!! :-)

{Day 28} ~ Through The Looking Glass

We got into a hell of a snowstorm right on a busy motorway when driving on to stay with our relatives after the family Christmas gathering. It was scary but we all finally arrived safe and sound :-)

{Day 27} ~ A Breath Of Fresh Air

We were promised a white Christmas - and we got it! :-)

Frau Holle got out all her pillows and duvets and started shaking them out by midday on Christmas Eve and she didn't stop until the next day, turning everything into a beautiful winter wonderland for Christmas. I went for a long 2 1/2 hours Christmas morning walk into the snowy forest with my Mum, and it was magical :-)

{Day 26} ~ The Day After

All packed and ready for traveling to the family Christmas get-together on Boxing Day and for spending some days with the relatives.

{Day 25} ~ This Magic Moment

After the long walk in the wintry and snowy forest with my Mum, a long hot soak in the bath, with a good book and a special Christmas bath bomb from Lush was just the perfect thing to do on a lazy Christmas day :-). So relaxing!

Texture by Pareeerica

Thursday 23 December 2010

{Day 23} ~ Life Is Sweet

Prompt for Day 23 for Picture the Holidays: "Life Is Sweet"

These are the English Christmas pralines I bought the other day for our "A Touch of British" Christmas. It wasn't easy to resist the tempation to eat them before I had the shot taken. I didn't dare touch them until I had downloaded them all, but now, that the shot is posted, there's no holidng back :-)
Not quite sure about the processing, especially how the background turned out. But I like the lacy traditional old style café feeling :-)

{Day 22} ~ You Are Getting Sleepy

Prompt for Day 22 for Picture the Holidays was "You are Getting Sleepy" and it was certainly most fitting. Yesterday was the last day before my 10 day Christmas break and I was counting the days and hours because I really need that holiday now. My photography classes and projects are giving me the greatest pleasure and I learn so much but they also take up all my time and keep me awake far too long at night. I was too tired last night to the day's shot.

This is a picture of my beloved late cat and I think that cats really are the greatest sleepers in the world. We got her when she was only 3 months old and two years ago, just a few days before Christmas, we had to make the hard decision to let her go. She was so poorly at the end that keeping her alive for just another day, let alone until after Christmas, for our sakes would have been pure cruelty. It was a sad Christmas and it broke my heart. Even though she stayed with my parents when I moved out, she was always *my* cat. When I went home to visit my parents, she would place herself on a strategic point from where she could keep an eye on me and the sofa and as soon as I was approaching the sofa, she came running to claim her favourite sleeping spot - on my belly. We spent hours like this lying on the sofa together and her joy of seeing me and being with me was always such a great comfort when I was feeling low. But she had a good life, and she lived to be 18 years and died of old age. But I had had her half my life and it was so hard to let her go. I still miss her. Especially at this time of the year. Sleep tight, my Darling, you're always in my heart
I really regret that I didn't have my DSLR when she was still alive to take some good shots of her.

Textures by SkeletalMess / Shadowhouse Creations and Kim Klassen

{9 Muses Musing} ~ Snowflake

Today's prompt for 9 Muses Musing: Snowflake

I'm an absolute snow lover and I so hope that there will be some real snow for Christmas Eve tomorrow! 

Textures: SkeletalMess / Shadowhouse Creations and Pareeerica

Monday 20 December 2010

{Day 19} ~ Make a List

Alternative title: ~ Procrastination Queen ~

Prompt for Day 19 for Picture the Holidays was "Make A List". I'm a master of the art of procrastination. Unfortunately. I make a lot of to do lists, and usually, they help me get things done which otherwise I would have left for tomorrow, or the day after that, or anytime later... I admire people who managed to do things immediately and often wish that I could bring myself to that as well and get more organised. But then - nobody's perfect. And that's okay :-)

Textures: Shadowhouse Creations

Sunday 19 December 2010

{Day 16} ~ Season of Lights

Prompt for Day 16 for Picture the Holiday was: "Season of Lights"

I was looking for colourful Christmas lights but just couldn't find anything. Most Christmas lights over here are the traditional yellow ones. So I used Photoshop to turn my town's big Christmas a bright pink. I don't think I've ever seen pink Christmas lights anywhere!

Road To Nowhere

There are a one or two things in my life which make me feel like not getting anywhere at all. And although I've been continually trying to change them, I haven't succeeded to make it happen yet. What I want for Christmas therefore is: Change. I hope that next year, I will finally reach a fork on my road to nowhere, which will allow me to leave it and follow a different, more successful path.

Friday 17 December 2010

{9 Muses Musing} ~ Day 3: Bells

The sweetest Christmas bells are those attached to a deliciously yummy chocolate St. Nicholas :-).

The focus isn't very great here, made worse by the fact that I had to crop the image as my blue fleece blanket in the background turned into a great ugly dark spot and it was far too late for starting all over again... But I like the light on the bell. And I'm so looking forward to eating this chocolate Santa tonight! :-)

Texture by Pareeerica

{9 Muses Musing} ~ Day 2: Lights

What a great surprise awaited me yesterday morning, when I opened Mortal Muses to get the prompt for Day 2 of 9 Muses Musing and saw a very familiar picture appearing before my eyes! The prompt was "Light" and Kat had chosen one of my pictures to feature on the blog. The photo was taken a week ago and I was trying out my new lens, a Canon 50mm f1.8, which I had very spontaneously decided to buy the day before. This is one of my favourite spot in Zürich. Looking up the Limmatquai with its Christmas lights, the typical blue trams of Zürich, the old guild buildings, the river. To the left is my favourite bridge, Münsterbrücke, a old, small cobblestone bridge connecting the two big minsters Grossmünster and Fraumünster. There seem to be new kind of benches in town and they provided great spidery shadows and the people walking by just helped to add the whole scene into one that reminded me of the dark, gloomy mood of Carlos Ruiz Zafóns novels, which I loved reading, exactly because of their mysterious mood.

I was also trying out my new bokeh kit with various shapes, which fits this lens perfectly. I chose the star shape as I thought that fitted the Christmas season best. Zürich's got a new Christmas lighting in Bahnhofstrasse, replacing a cold and much hated one. The new is sparkly and colorful and I get the feeling that each time I get to tone, it sparkles even more! The new lens and star bokeh turned it into a sky full of bright cheerful stars :-). I have posted this photo earlier already, for Picture the Holiday's prompt for Day 10, "Twinkle, Twinkle". But decided to use it again for 9 Muses Musing because I really quite like it :-).

I love my new lens!! :-)

Thursday 16 December 2010

{9 Muses Musing} ~ Day 1: Giving

Yesterday, the Mortal Muses' project  "9 MUSES MUSING - 18 Days of Holiday Prompts and Daily Giveaways, December 15th - January 1st" started. I had been looking forward to it and marked the day in my diary but still managed to miss it completely. So I'm already behind, but I still intend to try to keep up now. So yesterday's prompt for the first day was "Giving". I had taken a few pics of presents earlier this week, which suit this prompt perfectly. And although I'm too late to post my picture on the Muses' blot, at least here on my blog I can start with Day 1 :-).

The Joy of Giving: Wrapping them up is at least as much fun as unwrapping them :-)

Textures by Kim Klassen and AlicePopkorn

Wednesday 15 December 2010

{Day 14} ~ Sincerely Yours

Prompt for Day 14 for "Picture the Holidays" is "Sincerely Yours": Appreciating handwritten cards and letters, and trying to represent this while creating a vintage look.

 A few years ago, a dear friend of mine and I have started to write good old old-fashioned letters (those in the pictures are from her) to each other occasionally, complete with ink bottle, dip pen, seal and wax and trying to produce a neat and pretty script. We love going shopping for new coloured inks, pen holders, nibs and sealing wax. We also write text messages and e-mails, but it is so nice to find a real letter in your letter box, to know that your friend has taken the time (and it takes a lot of time) to sit down, get out all the writing stuff and write the letter, and to curl up on the sofa with a lovely cup of tea and read it.

I keep all my letters and cards (I have another friend who frequently sends postcards with short messages instead of electronic messages) in my "letter box".

When I was taking and processing this picture, I realised that it was quite a while since I wrote a letter, so many things have come in between. But it has inspired me to take time and start writing again :-).

The texture used here is by Kim Klassen.

{Day 12} ~ A Whole Lot of Happy

I'm a bit behind with some of the pictures for Picture the Holiday, but yesterday, I finally had the inspiration for my shot for Day 12 - "A Whole Lot of Happy". Most of the baubles you find around here are the conservative ball, either plain/single-coloured or whith a bit of glitter or other decorations. But there are not a lot of those funny shapes and stuff around. Or at least I haven't come across too many. But yesterday, I found these three smiling snowmen ornaments, and I just loved them. They looked so cheerful and friendly and happy, I just had to take them home. They also were perfect for my Day 12 shot. I had also much fun with the processing, and got quite carried away in the process. But I think these three chaps can take it, and I'm sure they appreciate all the chill and snow I've added :-)

Monday 13 December 2010

{Day 13} ~ Simply Divine

Todays prompt for Picture the Holidays was "Simply Divine".

When I was walking to the train station after work, the sky was a wonderful pale pastel pink. I love the light at this time of year, the very light, soft blue skies, the intense and short blue hour (my favourite time of the day in winter) and those rare, pale sunsets. They are much rarer and often so subtle that they almost go unnotived if you don't bother to stand still for a moment and look. They are a gift from nature - simply divine :-)

Saturday 11 December 2010

{Day 10} ~ Twinkle, Twinkle

Prompt for Day 10 of Picture the Holidays was "Twinkle, Twinkle". I took my new 50mm lens and my equally new Bokeh Kit from Photojojo to town after work and got completely carried away with twinkly bokeh blurr. I decided on the star bokeh for my Christmas city lights bokeh and just set my lens on manual focus and never focused on anything. All I wanted was bokeh, and lots and lots of it and nothing really had to be in focus at all. Just a happy blurry twinkly starry Christmas lights in the city bokeh effect.

Maybe gone a bit too far, maybe a bit ove the top - but actually, I quite like it :-) It's all about experimenting, especially if you're a beginner :-).

Above Zürich's new Christmas lights "Lucy" in Bahnhofstrasse, getting more and more twinkly. Below right one of the many huge Christmas trees in Zürich, this one is at the tram stop at Paradeplatz.

{Day 9} ~ It's A Sign

I didn't spend the evening of my "day off" the day before yesterday on the sofa, instead I got lost and walked in the wrong direction several times in the dark among several construction sites in a part of Zürich where I haven't been for ages and which I almost didn't recognise, until I finally found the shop I was looking for - and bought myself an early Christmas present, a 50mm lens. Yay!

So last night, I went to the city again to try it out and to take the pictures for the last two days. Thursday's prompt for Picture the Holidays was "It's a Sign". I found this cup in the city's English Bookshop and it just made me laugh. And it will make a perfect present for a dear friend of mine :-).

Christmas time is most certainly not the time for dieting! :-)

Thursday 9 December 2010

{Day 8} ~ Reflecting On The Season

The prompt for Day 8 for Picture the Holidays was to look at things in a mirror to see things differently. I found this really hard to capture as at the end, the result was no unexpected effect or anything but just my Christmas hanging basket decoration in the mirror. The poinsettia on the right at least looks much better here than in real life. I have my doubts that it'll make it till Christmas.

I love the class and the challenge it offers to try out different things but it is also a lot of work to keep up. For the last few days, I've spent my entire evenings with my camera and computer, not getting to bed before 11.30, which is not a great idea if your alarm clock goes off at 5.30 again. So I've been thinking about taking a break today and spend the evening on the sofa in front of the telly. I've just received the prompt for today, which is "It's a Sign". I take that as a sign then for an evnening off :-).

Wednesday 8 December 2010

Differences Between Inks

What I probably love most about scrapbooking are the gorgeous patterned papers and the beautifull flourish stamps. When I had a look at one of the online shop websites, I noticed the great variety of both stamps and ink pads. Up till now, all I knew were the good old wooden stamps and, well, an ink pad. But apparently, there's so much more to inks and stamps. Rather confusing, really. So I did some research on stamps and inks, and here's what I found about the differences between inks and which to use for what:

My new beautiful wooden flourish stamp. Love it with gold ink.

{Day 7} ~ Express Yourself

"Express Yourself" was  was the prompt for Day 7 for Picture the Holidays. How am I? How do I feel? How I was yesterday? I'm not so sure, it wasn't really such a good day. And I'm also not quite sure what exactly it is I wanted to express here. This is just what came out of trying to do a shot for the prompt. I took about 50 shots and wasn't happy with any one of them, when I finally had the idea to change the angle and shot from the left hand side, which gave a result I could live and work with. Sometimes, things are so simple... I'm a bit tired at the moment, and in need of a Christmas break. Some peace and quiet and sleep. Two more weeks to go...

I found this "änglaspel" (angel chimes) at a supermarket and couldn't resist it. They're quite popular here and most, like this one, come from Sweden. It looked so wonderfully simple and nostalgic, and the pictures on the box lookes as if they hadn't changed at all since the 1970s. I haven't found the box yet, but looking a the picture today, I have a strange feeling that it isn't all too different from the one on the box. Which would explain where the inspiration came from :-). Funny also to think that the girl with the pigtails on the box is now probably about my age :-).

{Day 6} ~ Every Little Thing

The prompt for Day 6 for Picture the Holidays was "Every Little Thing", to find a small delight on an ordinary day. I was spending the weekend in the mountains, so it wasn't really "ordinary days" and there were many small delights. This little Samichlaus was one of them and as the 6th of December is the feast of Saint Nicholas, I thought this would be very approbriate.

There was a small Christmas market in Davos and my friend and me went to have a look. At one of the stalls run by an organisation for integrating the unemployed, we found those sweet chaps. We just couldn't resist their charm and we both bought one. That dark thing on the right side is a wooden candle, made of a thick wooden branch or small trunk. The flame is also made of wood and painted. They're handmade by the husband of the lady at the stall, who gave them to us for a third of the price because it was closing time soon and she was happy to get back to a warm house after having been at the market all day (it was a good -10 degrees C that day). Me and my friend, we were so happy with our buys, because they are special and hand made rather than mass produced and because we had spent a great day together.

The Samichlaus (as he's called in my dialect of Swiss German) or Sankt/Heiliger Nikolaus in German, looks very similar like Santa Claus (Weihnachtsmann in German) but is actually not the same. He's based on Nicolaos of Myra (on which Santa Claus is modelled). He also brings presents to good children but not on Christmas but on the 6th of December, or the evening before. He doens't climb down the chimney during the night but knocks on the door and comes into the house to ask the children if they're been good. He brings nuts and oranges and children learn poems by heart to recite to him to earn them. Thankfully, my parents never booked a Samichlaus to come and visit me but I was frightend every year that he might come... The presents on Christmas Eve in Switzerland, and other (German speaking) countries are brought by the Christkind (christ-child). Sankt Nikolaus is usually accompanied  by his helper Schmutzli or Knecht Ruprecht. He's clad in brown and carries a rod to punish the bad children with. Often, they also have a donkey with them.

Tuesday 7 December 2010

{Day 5} ~ The View From Here

As I've mentioned in my last post, I'm already behind with my photos for Picture the Holidays, as I didn't have internet access over the weekend. So I haven't come up with something for days 4 and 6, but at least I found something suitable for day 5's prompt "The View From Here". I spent the weekend up in the mountains, in the snow and on Friday and Saturday, it was blue sky, winter sun and all perfect winter wonder land. The temperatures went down to -10 degrees Celsius and lower, but really, it's so beautiful, you don't even feel it much :-). I love getting on top of a mountain, either by walking up or taking the easy way by cable car etc. There is something wonderfully freeing and mind-clearing about looking at the world from the top of a mountain. One just gets a different perspective, is able to look at things differently. And if the world is all covered in snow, it's simply marvellous. Mother Nature at her best :-)

I hope to be able to come up with something for today's prompt, which I find very difficult, and catch up soon with the missed days 4 and 6 :-).

{Day 3} ~ Love

I was off to the mountains on Friday morning for a long weekend and without internet, which really is quite a good think, once in a while. Unfortunately, it also meant that I was not able to get the prompts for Picture the Holidays for a few days, which means that I'm already behind (but trying to catch up :-) ). I got up extra early on Friday, though, before leaving for my train, to get at least Friday's prompt, which was "Love". As I was going to spend the weekend in the snow, and as I'm an absolute lover of snow, this was pretty easy. I simply love when the world is all white, it somehow soothes my senses, my mind, it just makes me happy, happy, happy :-).

Thursday 2 December 2010

{Day 2} ~ Reframe

Day two of Picture the Holidays and the prompt for today is "reframing", to find time in the hectic pre-Christmas time to enjoy it and calm down. I couldn't live without books and there's no day when I don't read but in winter, I especially love to get up really early on Sunday mornings, when the world around me is still asleep. I love that calming feeling of being the only person awake and having the world to myself. I love to spend the time reading one of my favourite books in those early wintry, snowy, calm mornings and drink a nice cup of tea.

It has also become a bit of a tradition for me to re-read a favourite book in the time before Christmas. This year, I'm re-reading Peter Hoeg's "Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow". For a winter and snow lover, the absolute perfect book! :-) I have three different copies of this book, all of which you can see in the picture. The one I'm reading at the moment is the one on top.

It's the last week of the Colour scrapbooking class and the colours are the neutrals, black and white and the shades in between. I think this and the snow outside has inspired me for the tones for this picture :-).

{Day 1} ~ Gratitude

Yesterday was the first day of Picture the Holidays, and the prompt was "Holding onto Gratitude". What am I grateful for? Lots of things, and 2010 so far has been an especially rotten year, giving even more cause to be grateful about different kinds of things. The idea for the picture for this day though came from the radio, to which I wake up every morning. This time of the year is also the time, when many companies announce their cutting and restructuring plans for the new year. On the news yesterday, yet another of these companies announced their planned job cuts, leaving a few hundred people with a letter of dismissal as a Christmas present and the prospect of facing redundancy in the year year. Some of them may find it especially hard to find a new job, as they never had a chance to get formal training and qualifications and have to put up with low paid jobs they don't enjoy.

I'm grateful that I had the opportunity to do all the trainings and qualifications I wanted to do, to chose where and what I wanted to study, to chose the profession and wanted to and which I love (I'm a librarian). I am grateful that I can fully enjoy the Christmas season  look forward to my Christmas break, knowing that I have a job to get back to in January after the holiday.

The portrait picture is the one I uploaded to the class gallery, the one below I wanted to upload on Flickr as well, but today, Flickr doesn't seem to want me to upload anything. I always get a failure notice and I don't even know why. So annoying. But I keep trying... :-)